Rejecting A Checklist-Based Faith

Some years ago I bought this book called The Art of Getting Started.  It's an interactive book designed to help you get your creative juices flowing when you feel stuck.  

The book has all of these exercises that are intended to jump start your creativity and nudge you forward a bit toward something other than staring blankly at your computer screen.   

Today, the section of the book I chose was one that didn't seem all that helpful at first.  The instructions began like this: "Physically crossing tasks off a list is one of the best ways to create feelings of achievement and motivation."  Okay, I am on board so far.  

Then the instructions took a strange turn:  "Cross out each of the tasks below using a different pen.  Find your favorite." Below the instructions were the words: "Task 1," Task 2," "Task 3," and so on.   What?!!

I figured I may as well give it a try, so I took out a handful of pens and started crossing out the "tasks."  When I was done, I looked at them balefully, not really trusting the process.  

Suddenly, it occurred to me that while it did feel pretty good to physically cross out tasks on a list, and bask in a feeling of accomplishment over getting them done, that feeling was pretty fleeting.  

Think about it, when your life becomes a series of tasks that have to get done, a checklist that needs to be completed, it can start to feel pretty empty and meaningless after a while in spite of the momentary feeling that you got something done.  

Further, when your life of faith is nothing but checklists and tasks, it steals your joy and robs you of the unexpectedness of God's grace and love and the surprising hope that we find when we encounter Jesus in the world.  

Jesus criticized religious people who turned their faith life into checklists--lists that they not only had for themselves, but for everyone else as well.  

They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

Because it's never enough just to have our own lists, is it?  When we start down the path of a checklist-based faith, we not only feverishly work our own lists to death, we then want to hand everyone else a copy, and expect them to do the same.  

If your faith has become a series of checklists that you've either created or had handed to you, crumple up those lists, throw them away, and hear these words from Jesus: 

Come unto me, all you who are weary and overburdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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